Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed has been accused of “cronyism,” or favoritism, in the distribution of several high-paying contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. SSP America, the accuser in this case, claims that its bid to place its restaurant properties in the Atlanta airport’s new international terminal was rejected without merit, so that the “the mayor’s friends” could take over the space.
“We’ve got the chairman of the mayor’s campaign; we’ve got one of his major fundraisers out there—those two alone are in the vast majority of the properties out in the airport for concessions,” Ken Hodges, an attorney for SSP America told Atlanta’s Fox 5 News.
Court filings from SSP America state that the mayor made sure that his political allies received the bids in question. One of Mayor Reed’s attorneys, Mark Trigg, dismissed the charges as “a waste of taypayer dollars.” In the filing Hodges mentioned a red flag raised by the Federal Aviation Administration, regarding whether the winning bidders were qualified as “disadvantaged businesses.”
Trigg maintains that the mayor had no direct involvement with the process, and that the Georgia Department of Transportation makes the certifications and the city is required to accept them.
Still, Hodges and SSP America appear certain that the mayor is responsible. “The mayor has had a hand in this all along. We had emails, we had other evidence to support that and yet the mayor is going to hide behind his lawyers and not come forth and testify,” said Hodges.